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Plan – Do – Check – Adjust

Using Continuous Improvement Tools to Make Manufacturing Day 2016 a Success!

Manufacturing Day is a celebration of modern manufacturing meant to inspire the next generation of manufacturers.

NMC Training Services, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center, and the Grand Traverse Area Manufacturing Council sponsored the third annual event on Friday, October 7. In 2014, we were excited to host over 200 regional students. This year over 550 students were engaged in Manufacturing Day. Our final number will continue to grow as we roll out our Assembly Line activity to area second graders. This year’s schools included Traverse City Area Public Schools, TBA-ISD, and the Buckley, Kingsley, Kalkaska, and Mancelona school districts.

Thank you to the 25 manufacturers who opened their doors to show students what manufacturing is about. Also, to the 50 community volunteers who hosted and guided students.

Plan -- As soon as our debrief from 2015 was concluded, our team comprised of Ariel Lyon, Jessie Mitchell, Vicki Rumbach, myself, and team lead and passionate manufacturing guy, Ken Scott, started planning for this year's event. Our target condition was to engage 800 area students with a focus on the middle school student during Manufacturing Day 2016. A new addition was to take our assembly line activity to second graders. Finally, we added a new pre-celebration event to thank the manufacturing community, supporters, and sponsors.  We established a cadence of meetings and went to work using lean tools to keep us organized and on task.

Do -- We contacted our supporters in the educational community to tell them about the event and solicit their help. Buckley, Kingsley, and Mancelona were new school districts for this year. We contacted manufacturers who opened their checkbooks and their doors for the event. Each student was given a backpack filled with information on local manufacturing and educational paths for manufacturing. Additionally, Materne North America and Shoreline Fruit both generously donated food products for the students. TentCraft graciously volunteered to open their doors for the pre-event celebration on Thursday, October 6. TentCraft’s talented Kimberly Loveland helped to plan the event of tours, updates, and networking. 

Let me keep the “Do” part of the event visual for you.

Mfg Day tour

Our community champions say it best during their interviews on MTM On the Road segments that aired on Thursday, October 6.

Click here to see videos of Manufacturing Day prep on "9 and 10 Michigan this Morning on the Road"

Check -- We solicited feedback in the form of an evaluation from each student attending Manufacturing Day as well as debrief sessions for our volunteers and continue to get feedback from the 28 manufacturers.  Rich Wolin, Director of NMC’s Training Services and MMTC NL, believes Manufacturing Day highlights the importance of manufacturing in our community and plants the seeds for future employment in young minds.

Adjust -- As we look forward to Manufacturing Day 2017, we know we need to spread the event over more days to accomplish the need of the number of students that would like to attend and accommodate for the operations of manufacturers.

It all started three years ago with a can-do attitude and it continues to grow. If you would like to get involved with this exciting and rewarding event, please contact me and let's talk about how we can work together to stay calm and make a great Manufacturing Day event for 2017!

By Betsy Williams, (231) 995-2018,

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